In Wales, we have been working for many years to break down barriers to digital preservation through working collaboratively to increase capacity and skills. The publication of the National Digital Preservation Policy and accompanying Technical Appendix, on Digital Preservation Day in 2017, aimed at ensuring digital resources of enduring value would be selected for preservation and remain authentic and accessible in the future, and to raise awareness of the importance of digital preservation for stakeholders and decision makers.  The National Library of Wales’s new strategic plan, A Library for Wales and the World, 2021-26, commits to delivering guidance and advice on conservation and raising awareness of the risks of losing the national memory in the digital age through  developing relationships with libraries, archives, museums and others in the heritage sector.

In 2020-21, funding was received for the sector from the Welsh Government’s Local Government Digital Transformation Fund to undertake a project to consider the issues arising from the management of records held within systems where the operational life of the system is considerably less than the life span of the records to be managed.  The research, which was undertaken by KevinJBolton Ltd, stated that capacity and lack of resources were critical issues which were impeding progress on digital preservation being embedded into organisational planning.  

The report put forward a number of recommendations to address areas, including developing practical digital preservation work, increasing skills and confidence through using existing resources to develop simple workflows and processes for collecting and preserving digital data. It also recommended  greater partner uptake of the Archivematica digital preservation solution developed for the Archives and Records Council Wales by the National Library of Wales, with support from Welsh Government.

In response to these recommendations, the Saving the Bits training sessions were launched in June 2021. The sessions were designed to introduce digital preservation concepts and to assist with developing workflows and processes. These processes were demonstrated through using both Archivematica, with its built in tools and through a manual workflow based on a Windows 10 operating system, installed with tools with user-friendly GUIs, such as AVG, Antivirus, Teracopy, AVP Fixity, Droid and Jhove.

The sessions, attended by archives service staff and colleagues from other heritage sector organisations across Wales, have raised awareness of digital preservation through practical sessions, supported by videos which explain the processes. The documentation and demonstration videos from these sessions are available for all on the Archives Wales website. The sessions demonstrate that breaking down barriers to digital preservation relies on working collaboratively, sharing knowledge and skills and giving it a go.

Teaming up to Save the Bits in Wales.

Sally McInnes,
Chair, Archives and Records Management Digital Preservation Group

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